Health Team

Emory: Americans with Ebola deserve best care

Posted August 1, 2014

— The two Americans battling the Ebola virus will be transported back to the United States and treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

A specially equipped plane left Cartersville, Ga., Thursday headed to Liberia to pick up Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly. In a statement Friday morning, Samaritan's Purse, which sponsored the mission where the two worked wrote, "Medical evacuation efforts are underway and should be completed by early next week."

Doctors and administrators from Emory discussed their plans with the media Friday afternoon. One patient is expected to arrive at Emory over the weekend and the other by the early part of the week.

"Emory is one of four facilities in the United States capable of handling patients in a special containment unit that can safely care for patients with a serious communicable disease," Dr. Bruce Ribner said.

Writebol was working with Serving in Mission in Liberia in a disinfection unit when she contracted the disease. Brantley was serving a Samaritan's Purse fellowship and had worked with others who have Ebola.

Ebola begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat and escalates to vomiting, diarrhea and internal bleeding. The disease spreads through direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids as well as indirect contact with "environments contaminated with such fluids," according to the World Health Organization.

There is no known cure, and there is neither an FDA vaccine nor treatment for the disease, Ribner noted.

"The key component is supportive care," he said.

Emory and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were consulting on possible therapies, but any attempted would be experimental.

"We feel they deserve to have the highest level of care offered for their treatment," Ribner said. "We have the environment and the expertise to safely care for them and offer them the maximum opportunity for recovery from this infection."

The Emory containment unit has been outfitted for such isolated intensive care for about a decade, and the staff is specially trained. Ribner said he had no safety concerns – for himself or other Emory staff – over treating the patients of the dangerous disease. 

Mission representatives described both Brantly and Writebol as being in serious condition but stable.

Writebol's husband, David Writebol, is also in Liberia. He has been able to visit with his wife through a window or while wearing a haz-mat suit, according to a statement from Serving in Mission.

“We are so heartened that Nancy is in stable condition and that plans are underway to bring her back to the U.S.,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. “We are grateful for the help and support of the U.S. State Department in this endeavor. As believers in the power of prayer, we covet the prayers of people around the world, not only for Nancy and Kent, but also for all those fighting this brutal virus.”

The Ebola outbreak in west Africa has claimed more than 700 lives so far, and more than 1,300 people have become ill.

The CDC issued its highest possible warning, a level 3, on Wednesday, advising Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, countries where the virus is present. 

Samaritan's Purse, Serving in Mission and other groups working in those countries announced plans to leave those countries earlier this week.


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  • LuvTheEG5 Aug 1, 2014

    It's clear they have the best shot at survival having medical treatment in the USA. The mortality clock for them has been officially ticking and they don't have much longer if no attempt is made to do EVERYTHING to save them.
    It's just a sad irony that the best place for that treatment is a major US city that includes one of the largest surrounding suburban sprawling areas in the country AND the busiest airport in the world.

    Personally, I think they should have kept it under very tight wraps, media-wise. At the very least, why wasn't it referred to as an 'undisclosed facility' instead of Sanjay Gupta announcing it (as the hospital where he is on staff, no less) on CNN?

  • ashewing Aug 1, 2014

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    This is WORSE than Zaire!

  • Chad Johnson Aug 1, 2014
    user avatar

    I don't like it. It's sad, but really needs to be kept over there

  • cheezchicken Aug 1, 2014

    To fear identified/isolated Ebola patients is as pointless as throwing rocks at medical missionaries or believing that magic or curses brought this illness to the African people. There are redundant protocols in place to deal with this type of thing. Get those people back to civilization and get them well. They deserve it- especially with the work they're doing. Good for Emory. They are to be admired.

  • tranzorg Aug 1, 2014

    An ebola outbreak in the USA would be the icing on the cake for an already tumultuous 2014.

  • A cold, hard dose of Hans Aug 1, 2014

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    As I said, American arrogance will be the death of us all.

  • Big Mike Aug 1, 2014

    Maybe so, but how about on a Hospital Ship out at Sea..

  • OneLove Aug 1, 2014

    Risk? Sure, but a calculated one. Folks fail to realize the equipment used over in Africa has to be disinfected and re-used. Here, with communicable diseases, disposable equipment is used. that goes a long way, in itself, to prevent spreading. We are praying for God's touch on these two -

  • KnowsItAll Aug 1, 2014

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    "Haven't bugs like this been known to mutate or change..."

    uh, no. that would be evolution, which like, man-made climate change, is a fabrication foisted on us by liberals.

  • Mike Berthold Aug 1, 2014
    user avatar

    Guess I'll buy some interests in plastic sheeting, disinfectant and duct tape. The fruitloops, like a lot of those posting here, will be out in force buying it. That, along with my stock in Alcoa (for the tinfoil crowd), and I should be set for a looooonnnnngggg time.